I’m currently visiting Kansas, where most of my family lives, and as I lay on the bed in the upstairs bedroom of my favorite Aunt’s house, my muscles ache and my body feels so heavy from the past few days with some of the most incredible Ballet friends I’ve ever gotten the chance to meet. (Jana said it best #onaballethigh)
We began planning the trip a few months ago when I realized two of my favorite adult ballet instagrammers lived near my family. There was a vague thought amongst my sister and I to make a trip to Kansas sometime this summer, so we began planning it. As we did so, this absolutely incredible Ballet meet up opportunity also came to life in such an incredible way.
Joanna, Hannah, Jana, Kristin, and I were all able to meet up over the span of three days to hang out, get to know each other, talk all things Ballet and adult Ballet, hear of each other’s projects and endeavors, and endlessly quote Mean Girls. Needless to say, hilarity ensued.
It started Sunday night, when we all actually met for the first time at dinner. Even from the first moment, everything felt comfortable. I think it says a lot of the quality of these ladies character to be able to get in a group of five and every single one be able to blend so seamlessly together. Never before have I been in a group of such kind, selfless, down to earth people as I was these past few days.
Jana has a successful YouTube channel, which is already linked on my resources tab (ballerinas by night) and she vlogged the trip as well, so please subscribe if you want the behind the scenes footage of all the shenanigans we got into.
Monday, we began at Joanna’s house for an incredible brunch, as well as mutual obsession over her cat, Caspian, who deserves his own special shout out for being so adorable. (Check out her book, Cantique on her website or Amazon.) From there, we were able to go to Eleve Dancewear downtown. I had been to their store once before, but this was my first time since they moved to their new location. It’s quite a bit larger, with absolutely lovely aesthetics. Seeing the Dancewear up close and being able to feel it and try on the different styles was really nice, as well as so helpful. It’s nice to see that their colors are true to what you see online, so you know that what you’re seeing is really what you’re getting.
That afternoon, Jana (who, if you didn’t know, Also happens to be a pretty baller photographer) did a photo shoot with each of us, which truly was special.
I had a moment I wasn’t really expecting while shooting where I realized that this really was the end of this part of my life. That I’ll still keep my shoes and probably play around with them here and there, but as for dancing in them and for sure performing, that chapter is officially closed. I got kinda choked up about it, but thankfully didn’t cry in front of all my new friends. The dream of being on pointe is what drove me to actually push through all the fears and anxieties of being a beginner. It was the seemingly odd dream I was chasing that started me on a ride I never thought I’d even have the opportunity to do. I thought getting pointe shoes was dreaming big–I had no idea. So to know that these past 6.5 years of Ballet has lead me to do so much in such a short amount of time, and that the fueling part of that fire is now behind me, you get a bit choked up. I was a bit frustrated at myself because I think I still forget my body can’t do what it used to be able to, even just a year ago. I’m sure this will be an ongoing battle for a bit. But Jana was so warm and made me feel nothing but comfortable. I knew she knew what she was doing, and she was really good at instructing us on what corrections to make. I automatically trusted her words and judgement. And honestly, what better way to close out such an incredible chapter of my life than being given the unimaginable opportunity to be shot by someone so incredible? To document this beautiful part of my life, surrounded by what have quickly become some of my dearest friends? I couldn’t have asked for more.
I loved, Also, getting to see my friends get their pictures taken. I can’t really explain what it’s like. That certain muse of a thing that draws us to in Ballet, that feeling that begs us to dance, that subtle voice in the back of our heads that encourages us to dream–seeing that embodied as they put on tutus and skirts and pointe shoes, floating through movements, knowing that this moment was being frozen in time, it really was special to watch. We all learned so much about ourselves and this pursuit of Ballet, and I’m so grateful for it.
This morning we took a class at Kansas City Ballet. (!!!) It was the absolutely perfect way to cap off this entire adventure.
The teacher was warm, and clearly knowledgeable. (And also really loved rond de jambes) I appreciated how well she was able to read the room and give combinations, and also how she would look dancers in the eye with intention, making sure each of us were set and following.
I was more than nervous, going into a place that’s completely new. I never really know what to say to teachers about the long list of things that are wrong with me. I used to avoid it and just push through and hope it wouldn’t get in the way, but now I don’t have that option. I have to speak up. I’m not very good at that. Thankfully, Joanna was kind and let the teacher know about our meet up and in that told her that I would have to modify. The teacher was so chill about it all, it made all the anxiety I was feeling melt away.
Even before the first plie, I was so grateful to be there. This is another experience I never could have even dreamed of doing. As she gave us our first combination, I felt a rush of peace as I realized that Ballet is, essentially, the same anywhere. I could be completely surrounded by unfamiliar, my world caving in around me, but if I can just get myself to a class, or even if I can just do one by myself, all of that fades to the background and I find myself centered, at least for a moment.
I wasn’t sure going into it if I would try and do a modified center, or just sit it out completely. I had made myself push through and stay for a few classes at home to try and gauge where I was endurance-wise, but still going into it couldn’t really tell where I was. As soon as class began, I decided to do a full out barre and sit out center. I know my heart wanted to do the whole thing, but I had to be realistic and do what was best. The last thing I wanted to do was to push myself too far and do something I would regret later.
Sitting out center also gave me a unique advantage. I couldn’t help but peek glances at my friends during barre, but even then I was having to focus so hard to keep my brain the least foggy as possible that I didn’t really get to see them dancing. It was so cool to be able to watch these people I know through pictures or videos they post on social media come to life. The little quirks and nuances we each have coming to life and painting the picture of who they are in shades unique to them. The way they held their arms, the tilt of their heads, the extension of their fingers. It really was a sight to behold.
Having followed along with barre videos Jana has on her YouTube channel, it was a bit surreal actually doing barre with her. It made me deal an instant peace, like there was a familiarity in this old friend of mine I had literally just met two days before. Getting to watch her in center was like watching grace embodied. She floats with such elegant lines and intention, striving to do her best, but not letting the effort be visible except in her exceptional dancing. The class was full of typical prodigies and ex professionals, but still my eyes would draw to her in her group.
I was able to stand next to Hannah at the barre, which I was super grateful for. We were on a wall that had windows looking down into one of the summer intensive classes, which made the moment even more surreal. I had seen some videos of a variation Hannah is working on on her own, but to be able to see her in a class was really special. She dances with a kindness I don’t know how fully to describe. It was as though watching her dance made me feel as though that sense of comfort I come to the studio to find, especially when things are rough, had been embodied in her dancing. I appreciated it so much.
Kristin is one of those types that when you see her dance, you automatically pin her as a pro. Nailing multiple turns and executing jumps with great precision, it could seem like she was just another “one of those.” Except that she wasn’t. She has this subtle beauty that set her apart from “those” and made her a true joy to watch. She was attentive to corrections others may just shove off, and even when you think there’s no way it could be done better than she had done it, she’d implement the general correction and be even better still. It truly was mind blowing.
Watching Joanna, even for a fleeting moment, it’s clear she is the type that just gets it. Her lines are precise and elegant, which just dooms anything else she does to be absolutely incredible. I found myself wishing so badly I could have my camera to capture the moments she was creating, completely letting the music flow through her as she embodied every note the pianist struck. If you didn’t know she had only been dancing as long as she had, you’d never guess it. You’d think she’d been in this most of her life with the way her technique seems flawless. Watching her was like watching a fairy dance among flowers, or fog on the top of a lake at sunrise. Getting to know her, I know that she has such a truly beautiful soul, and I believe her dancing effortlessly expresses that.
I, myself, pushed myself in the moments I did have, hoping to soak up every bit of this opportunity I was given. I was sweating before we even finished plies, which I joke about but haven’t actually done in a while. The combinations were good and detailed, making me feel like I can actually implement corrections is been given in classes before. I didn’t get any direct corrections this class, but I did get a head nod at a balance I miraculously held longer than I ever had, but she wouldn’t know that. Maybe it was the inspiration of the people surrounding me, maybe it was the effort I was putting into executing the movements correctly, I don’t know, but this class left my heart feeling so full, and I’m so grateful to have gotten to have this entire experience with these girls.
I find myself feeling like I used to when Mom would pick me up from summer camp now that it’s over. I want to stay on this high a little longer, but I know that reality is already knocking on my door. My hope is that I can carry these days and what I’ve learned in them with me and use them to hopefully be a better version of myself in my every day life.
I definitely need to journal, as there’s much held in my heart from these past few days. So many beautiful moments I want to remember for years to come. I wish I had taken more pictures, but i feel that just shows how great the company truly was.
Here are a few anyway, as well as Polaroid shenanigans.
(Thank you, girls, for sending me group pictures as well as others. And thank you all for being so lovely and hilarious and just absolutely wonderful. I appreciate y’all more than I’ll ever have words for. ❤️)
(Why are you so obsessed with me? And filtered water.)